The House Revenue and Taxation Committee voted 13-5 against a bill that would raise beer and wine taxes in Idaho. Supporters of the tax increase said the revenues would be used to boost substance abuse treatment in Idaho. But opponents said the bill would hurt taxpayers, beer and wine makers and sellers, as well as the agriculture community. The Idaho Freedom Foundation suggested an alternative concept -- one that would increase substance abuse funding without raising taxes.
One of the more interesting (from our point of view, away), came when Challis Rep. Lenore Barrett spoke against the legislation. Barrett prefaced her remarks by saying she does not drink but she does buy wine (for cooking) and beer (as a hair conditioner!). Barrett said in her opinion, the Idaho Freedom Foundation's alternative idea for funding substance abuse treatment makes more sense than the tax increase.
Our alternative calls for the state to divert beer and wine taxes already being collected and use that revenue exclusively for substance abuse treatment. The state could do the same with cigarette taxes. In total, that would set aside $14 million and could even bring in as much as $27 million to substance abuse treatment once the Capitol renovation is completed. (Right now, about $13 million from the cigarette tax is being used for the Statehouse project). Our projections, provided to lawmakers, is attached below.